I attended the solidarity rally yesterday (January 18), and I found it most meaningful. Congressman John Yarmuth and Mayor Greg Fischer spoke eloquently, Dr. Muhammad Babar, who is himself a Muslim, shared that the assault was not only on Frenchman and on Jews but on all of humanity including Muslims. Jewish Community Relations Council Chair Becky Ruby Swansburg wove the program together masterfully, and each of the prayers led by Cantor David Lipp and Rabbi Stanley Miles were warm and heartfelt.
It was uplifting to see so many come together – Jews, Christians and Muslims as one group with mutual respect and a true sense of fellowship and brotherhood. Kudos to the Jewish Community Relations Council, working with the Louisville Board of Rabbis and Cantors for putting this all together.
I then read a letter from Binyamin Hattab, father of Yoav Hattab, who was killed in the attack at the Kosher market. He wrote of his sadness and the terrible loss of his son along with all of the other victims of this vicious terrorist attack. He shared that his son Yoav was a Torah reader whose sweet voice was a pleasure to listen to. He helped train boys for bar mitzvah at no charge – simply because he loved his faith.
Yoav’s father wrote that “Yoav has a special love for the Shabbat. He would buy the best foods for the Shabbat and cook them himself. He would then bathe and put on fragrance, like a groom for a bride, to welcome the Holy Shabbat. Even in his last moments, he was on his way to purchase special foods with which to honor his beloved Shabbat.”
He then showed a copy of Yoav’s last text on his cellphone just minutes before entering the Kosher market. It was a message Yoav had written to one of his friends urging him to do more to honor the Shabbat. He wrote ”This is a difficult time for Jews in France. … Try at least to do something [in honor of the Shabbat].”
Yoav’s father went on to thank the people in France and around the world for their outpouring of love and support and comfort. He then concluded with the following request, “If I can make one request, it would be to continue Yoav’s embrace of life, his love of Judaism and of the Jewish people. And, like Yoav, encourage others to do the same. This would bring Yoav great joy.”
Then he asked that, “in Yoav’s memory, for people to do something special to honor the Shabbat that Yoav loved, and even if they are unable to keep an entire Shabbat to keep it even partially, in merit of the soul of Yoav and the other souls who were snatched from us with him.”
After reading this, I decided to fulfill this request of a bereaved father mourning for his beloved son and to enable others to do the same. Chabad invites the entire community to a 45-minute Solidarity Shabbat program at 12:15 p.m. (after services are over in our local temples and synagogues) on Saturday, February 7 (which is the 30th day after the attack), at the Chabad House, 1654 Almara Cir. After the service there will be a kiddush of traditional kosher Shabbat foods. Reservations are encouraged by calling 502-459-1770.
May the day soon come when all nations will live in peace and brotherhood with the coming of Moshiach and the era of peace and goodness for all mankind.
Rabbi Avrohom Litvin
Chabad of Kentucky,